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Fishing: Colorado > Rio Grande National Forest > Divide Ranger District

Quick Facts

Heart Lake Road 518.1b

Beginning Elevation: 11,740 Feet (3659.6 Meters) Junction of Heart Lake Road #518.1B with Carson Road #518.
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 220 Feet (68.6 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 11,960 Feet (3728.2 Meters) On a flat bench overlooking Heart Lake 1 mile from its beginning.
Length, One-way: 1 Mile (1.67 Kilometers)
Usage: Moderate 30 to 300 user per season

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

Vehicle access ends on a flat bench overlooking Heart Lake which lies down in a bowl just below timberline. The road is closed beyond this bench and down to the lake. Fishing and camping access to the lake is by foot only down a steep hill 1/3 mile to the lake.

The old road down to the lake has been closed to prevent further environmental damage to the steep hillside leading down to the lake and to prevent further vehicle impact along the shore. Please obey and respect this road closure and report any vehicle violations of the closure you may see to the Forest Service. Remember that violation of road closures are punishable by fine.

Heart Lake lies nestled in a bowl just below timberline and got its name from its heart-like shape. Good trout fishing and beautiful mountain scenery greets any visitor. Good campsites exist both on the flat bench at the end of the road and in the timber surrounding the lake below.

Carson Road #518, which provides access almost to Heart Lake, generally poses no problems for jeeps and other types of vehicles when the road bed is dry and firm. There are a few rough and steep sections along the route, however. Portions of the road can become soft and slick during periods of rain or snow, making travel more unsure and risky.

Directions from Creede, Colorado: Approximately 23.7 miles west of Creede on Colorado Highway 149, turn west on the Hermit Lakes Road #515 directly across the highway from South Clear Creek Falls Campground. Travel approximately 4 miles on the Hermit Lakes Road to the junction of Pearl Lakes Road #516. At this junction, turn right (northwest) onto the Pearl Lakes Road and travel approximately 4 miles to the junction of Carson Road #518. Turn left (west-southwest) onto Carson Road #518. Travel slightly over 4 miles west-northwest along the Carson Road to its junction with the Heart Lake Road.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Accessible: Late June-Early July through October .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

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Filed By: Keith (Lamesa, TX)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Heart Lake is a beautiful, secluded, high mountain lake. Brook trout up to 16" are common. Our best success has been with #12 Rio Grande Kings, although our kids actually caught fish with PowerBait. I would recommended access via Lake City & Carson instead of from Creede. We have a Jeep, so the road was not a problem, but the access is much easier from Lake City in my opinion. During the summer of '03, we saw a herd of almost 70 elk near the top of the divide. The hike to the lake is 1/3 of a mile down, but somehow it is about 3 miles up (very steep)!
Conditions: Bumpy road - Jeep/4wd highly recommended
Water Availability: Pack it in & out

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Camping Good sites
ICON Cold Water Fishing Heart Lake
ICON Four-Wheel Driving Heart Lake Road 518.1b
ICON Mountain Biking A few rough and steep sections

Related Activities
Heart Lake Trail - Good views of Fingers Mesa and Pole Mountain. The trail travels through a few small open parks but primarily stays in mixed aspen and spruce/fir stands.

Lost Trail Campground - The campground is located 38.2 miles southwest of Creede on Forest Road 520. There are numerous attractions to tempt the camper.

Lost Trail Creek - Excellent views and good fishing are both possible along this trail. Evidence of recent and historic mining activity is visible near Carson Pass on the Continental Divide.

More Information
Frequently Asked Questions
Email the Local Ranger

Visitor Information:

Divide Ranger Station, 13308 West US Highway 160, P.O. Box 40 , Del Norte, CO, 81132, Phone: 719-657-3321, TTY: 719-657-6038


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